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there be any Beauties in the Book, 'tis certainly his Business to find them out; and if there ben't why, he can't say I cheated him : I never pretended to give him any thing more than an old Song.
But as the greatest Part of this Book is not my own, and several things in it written Ages ago, I may, I hope, without either Vanity or Offence enter upon the Praises of Ballads, and new their Antiquity.
I would not be thought to ridicule any thing in Sacred Writ, and therefore I will pass over in Silence, what I might fay of the Times of Moses, Jephthah and David, and go directly amongst the Pagans.
And here the very Prince of Poets, old Homer, if we may trust ancient Records, was nothing more than a blind Ballad-finger, who writ Songs of the Siege of Troy, and the Adventures of Ulysses; and playing the Tunes upon his Harp, sung from Door to Door, till at his Death fomebody thought fit to collect all his Ballads, and by a little con
nelting 'em, gave us the Iliad and Odysses, which fince that Time have been fo much admired. And in those very Days, if we may trust the fucceeding Poets, no Entertainment thought compleat, unless whilst the Company was carouzing, there was a Harper in the Room finging old Songs ; at least written upon old Subjelts. Thus we find Virgil in the Account he gives of Dido's treating Æ
-Citharâ crinitus sopas Personat auratâ, docuit quæ maximus Atlas Hic canit.
And this the Archbishop of Cambray has
“ At the same time were brought in “ Baskets, all sorts of Fruits promised
by the Spring, and ripened by the " Autumn. And then Four
Four youthful “ Nymphs began sing.
At first “ they sung, the Combat of the Gods
against the Giants; then the Amours
of Jupiter and Semele ; the Birth of “ Bacchus, and old Silenus's Care in “ educating
Hippomenes and “ Atalanta's Race ; she who was
quish'd by the enticing Hue of Ap
ples from the Hesperian Garden culld. “ And last the Trojan War was also “ sung, Ulysses's
Ulysses's Fights and Counfels « rais'd to Heaven: The chief of all “ the Nymphs, Leucothoe, those “ melodious Voices join'd the sweet« ness of her Lute.
It would be endless, to prove that the several Poets whose Bustos I have put in my Frontispiece, were Ballad-Writers : For what else can we make of Pindar's Lyrics ? Anacreon would never ht down contented without his Bottle and his Song. Horace could drop the Praises of Auguftus and Mæcenas, to sing the Adventures of his Journey to Brandufium, and the* Baulk he met with from a Servant
* Book I. Satyr 5.
Wench in a Country Alehouse; and this Song of his it was, which
Occafon to a modern Ballad amongst us, called, The Coy Cook-maid. Cowley has left too many Works of this Kind to need quoting ; and Suckling's Wedding will never be forgot.
The Ballad-Makers are a more ancient, more numerous, and more noble Society than the boasted Free-Masons; and Duke upon Duke will witness, that People of Consderable Fashion have thought it no Disgrace to enroll themselves in this Worshipful Society.
Nor have these antique Songs ever been without their Admirers. When Thebes was fack'd, Pindar was Spard for the Sake of his Works; and Alexander wept, to think his Age did not afford so clever a Ballad singer as Homer had been, to record his Actions to Posterity.
It was the Custom of these Song Enditers thus to transmit to their Children the glorious Aëtions which happen'd in
their Days. And I believe it never was used more than amongst the English in Times of old. For we may very reasonably suppose, that one half at least of their Works are loft; and we have still one half of whatever is remarkable in History, handed down to us in Ballads.
The Use of these Songs too is very great.
I have known Children, who never would have learn'd to read, had they not took a Delight in poring over Jane Shore, or Fair Rosamond ; and feveral fine Historians are indebted to Historical Ballads for all their Learning. For had not Curiosity, and a Defre of comparing these Poetical Works with ancient Records, first incited them to it, they never would have given themselves the Trouble of diving into History : And in this I have endeavoured to make our old Songs still more useful, by the Introductions which I have prefix'd to 'em ; and in which is pointed out what is Fact and what Fiction. Should my Dehgn fucceed, a Second Colle&tion, and in which there are several Songs more antique than